EU Nations Expand Their Cyber Defences

More European countries have been widening the scope of their cyber defence operations. Finland has rolled out significant legislative and intelligence facility funding proposals meant to strengthen national security and cyber-defence infrastructure.

One major initiative includes the establishment in Helsinki of the NATO-supported European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, or ECE-CHT.

On the legislative side, Finland’s military and national security agencies will receive more expansive powers to conduct intelligence gathering inside and outside Finland’s borders.

The initiatives take place as Nordic national and military intelligence agencies issue fresh warnings regarding a potential escalation in cyber-attacks, mainly from Russian sources, that could target their critical government, defense and national security IT platforms.

Apart from Finland, the countries backing ECE-CHT include France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Britain. Other states are expected to join the ECE-CHT, which is due to be open in the second half of 2017.

The center will provide NATO with an additional counter-hybrid strategy resource. Other centers of excellence that already contribute to NATO’s efforts to counter hybrid threats are operating in Riga, Latvia, and Tallinn, Estonia.

The enhancement of surveillance powers for the military and national security agencies is fronted by legislative bills advanced by the ministries of Defence, Justice and the Interior. Finland’s national security agency, SUPO, will be able to gather and process technically based intelligence from cross-border network traffic for the first time.

The powers currently available to Finland’s military intelligence are being expanded to bolster the country’s defence capabilities. These will give the armed forces greater legal authority to conduct human, signals, information system and telecommunications intelligence operations, said Hanna Nordström, the ministerial working group’s chairperson.

“One objective of strengthened security operations would be to obtain information on relevant foreign military behavior and intelligence activities, and activities that pose a threat to public order, the development and distribution of military materials, and international crises,” Nordström said.

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